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French statesman and president (1981–95). Born on October 26, 1916, in Jarnac, France. He studied law and politics at the University of Paris. During World War II, he served with the French forces, was wounded and captured, but escaped and joined the French resistance. He was a deputy in the French National Assembly almost continuously from 1946, representing the constituency of Nievre (near Dijon), and held ministerial posts in 11 centrist governments (1947–58).
Francois Mitterrand opposed de Gaulle's creation of the Fifth Republic, and lost his assembly seat in the 1958 election. For many years he remained a stubborn opponent of de Gaulle. He worked for unification of the French Left, and became secretary of the Socialist Party in 1971.
Following his victory in 1981, Francois Mitterrand embarked on a program of nationalization and job creation in an attempt to combat stagnation and unemployment. He was re-elected president in 1988 and retired at the end of his term. With Kohl, he forged the Treaty of Maastricht on European union in 1991. Following Rocard's resignation in 1991 he appointed the controversial Edith Cresson as prime minister. Bérégovoy, who replaced her, committed suicide following allegations which implicated Mitterrand in deliberately misleading the French public over the economic situation.
During his retirement, revelations emerged of his friendship with wartime Vichy collaborators, political corruption, and extra-marital affairs.
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